A total of 35 protesters from the northern city of Tripoli were detained in relation to the angry anti-government Tripoli protests that took place in late January.
In a controversial and heavily criticized decision, Judge Fadi Akiki charged most of them with terrorism – a charge that is extremely serious and can result in the death penalty.
Now, after the non-stop work of lawyers of the Tripoli Bar Association, almost all of the detained protesters have been released from the military court. Four more are still fighting for their freedom.
Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, Lynn Maalouf, wrote, “Tripoli detainees released today – but they should never have gone [to] military court.”
“By resorting to the use of the anti-terror law and summoning protesters to military courts, Lebanese authorities are stepping up a pattern of harassment of activists that has been steadily escalating since a wave of anti-government protests first began in October 2019,” she indicated.
“Instead of protecting people’s rights to protest, the Lebanese judiciary is complicit in the ongoing repression of protesters and efforts to crush dissent,” she added.
In its most recent report, Amnesty International called on Lebanese authorities to stop the use of terrorism-related charges to prosecute protesters, calling it a “worrying new turn in the ongoing repression of activists and demonstrators.”
It’s worth noting that during the protests, the International Security Forces (ISF) opened fire using live ammunition against the protesters, killing the civilian Omar Tayba.
Maalouf has called on the country to open an “independent and transparent investigation” into the death of Omar Tayba to “ensure there is justice for his death,” adding that live ammunition should only be used when strictly necessary in self-defense or defense of others.
It goes without saying that the authorities must also stop the use of lethal force against unarmed civilians protesting for their rights.